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One Size Doesn’t Fit All In Social Media Tracking Methods

  • By Ironstone
  • |
  • February 15, 2013
Child in Oversized SuitThe bottom line – one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to tracking social media.  In a survey completed by Susan Etlinger for the Altimeter Group, she acknowledged, “Despite the advances in integrating social media into business, the majority of companies surveyed do not have standard framework in place to measure its value.”  So, where do you start? 
Building a “Business-Focused” Social Measurement Strategy
Prior to choosing social media measurement tools, firms should first lay the foundation by linking social media activity to business-focused goals.  In our blog, The Gold Rush to Social Media- How To Track Your Success, you will learn the vital steps needed prior to choosing social media measurement tools.
What Should I Measure?
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “What is the ROI on social media?” Return on investment should be only one metric in your social media tool kit. Firms should evaluate social media on its overall contribution to business goals.
  • Activity BasedActivity-Based Metrics embody likes, shares and followers.
  • Results BasedResults-Based Metrics measure conversion rates.

While tallying the number of likes, followers and comments will provide value; results-based metrics are equally important.

As your firm starts to measure social media, you will find some tools fit your practice better than others. The key element is to start with a foundation and make adjustments as needed.  As shown in the example below, vital areas of measurement should include exposure, influence, engagement and action/conversion.

Social Media Tracking Funnel

Source: Nick Cifuentes

Exposure Google Analytics is a fantastic way to measure how much traffic is being referred to your website from various social media channels. (Under the Traffic Sources tab, click on Referring Sites and then type in your social network of choice to identify the amount of traffic being referred) Measure your exposure by following the outlined steps. I suggest using Google Analytics to track each of these. (Choose the Content tab and then choose Overview)     

  • Establish goals based on actions you want your audience to complete.
  • Assess the value of your content. For each article, research paper or blog you create audit the number of unique page views, time spent on a page and the number of total pages viewed.
  • Measure increase or decrease of page views and fluctuation of time spent on pages. Increases in each area reinforce you are providing content relevant and interesting to your audience.

Influence In social media, share of voice, sentiment and top influencers credits the number of conversations about your firm versus your competition. Share of voice (SOV) unveils online interaction. The formula for calculating SOV is obtained by dividing the number of conversations or mentions of your brand by the total number of conversations or mentions about other brands in your industry. Segment brand mentions by social channel to uncover opportunities for improvement. SocialMention will provide you with your total number of conversations and it is free!   Sentiment tracking is one metric you will need to measure manually. Review your mentions and categorize them as positive, neutral or negative. Measure the results over time honing in on increasing the number of good comments and mentions.

Engagement Adding value through social strategy is essential. Sprout Social collects your social activity into one dashboard. This tool provides you an easy view to determine if your social media strategy is moving in the right direction.  Sprout Social offers a view of your basic metrics, including engagement, total size and recommendations for influencers to target. With this tool, audit your online community and focus on actual engagement by measuring clicks, tweets, retweets, shares, replies, direct messages, comments, wall posts and so on. Those who are engaged are positioned for conversion.

Action/Conversion Obviously action and conversion measurements are at the forefront of CEOs and management minds. Action and conversion do not take place at regularly scheduled intervals. Engagement-to-conversion can take a minute, a month or a year. As a social strategist, you must explain this process to management and place pivotal focus on how brand value is increased.

Finally, once you have achieved conversion, retention is critical. Keep social media an active process by enticing your online community to come back for more information.

Choosing Social Media Measurement Tools

The approach to take when choosing social media measurement tools is to identify the right tools for your firm to link success back to your bottom line. There are some very good measurement tools such as Simply Measured, Shareaholic,, TweetLevel/BlogLevel by Edelman and Tweet Reach which are free or available at a low cost.

Other brand specific tools you may want to consider:

Facebook: Facebook Analytics helps businesses determine how effective their Facebook efforts are. This tool collects data on the number of likes, weekly total reach (includes demographics and location) and people talking about your business.

Followers:  Tracking followers on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (and other social media channels) is a great way to measure how well you are growing your social business pages. Take note of trends and posts you make and which ones create the most interest. Don’t aim for a massive amount of followers who are disengaged – engagement is the key to conversion.

LinkedIn: With LinkedIn company pages, businesses can monitor page visits, followers, unique visitors, visitor demographics and clicks on products and services pages. Valuable insight is provided about who is interested in your firm.

I suggest tracking metrics on a weekly or monthly basis by creating your own dashboard or using one mentioned above. Monitor trends, review metrics and be prepared to make adjustments if the statistics are not moving in your favor.

Question: What tools does your firm use in tracking social media?                                                                                        Share with us! We want the best ideas!  Leave us a comment here!


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Author Bio

Ironstone is a learning and development consultancy with business acumen that translates across many industries. Our focus is on practice management strategies in order to enhance and improve both business and personal life. We support professionals who want major and comprehensive improvements that look at all aspects not just an isolated area for change. Ironstone has identified 4 key performance areas known as the Fundamental 4™, which are required to design, develop, and sustain a successful business.